Three Narratives of Non-Rosol Identity in the Aro Community

In the aromantic community, not everyone accompanies their romantic orientation label with a sexual orientation label. The same is true in the reverse in the asexual community, as well. People in these communities who feel alienated by the community norm of the Romantic/Sexual Orientation Dyad have what I’ve been referring to as non-rosol identities — and where the topic comes up in aro blogging, I’ve noticed some distinct and specific patterns, some of which have even surprised me.

Note, some posts about this already do exist: there’s this very short bullet point list by Kricketot and also this post at Aromantic Ruminations. My goal with this post is to elaborate more on those patterns and include links for further reading, while also trying to be more technically accurate with terminology. On that note, you will notice that, aside from this sentence, in this post I won’t be using the term “non-SAM,” and there’s a good reason for that.

This is, naturally, not an exhaustive list. It doesn’t aim to be. But hopefully it is a list that can encourage some further conversation.

Narratives of convergent identity

In some narratives, feeling at odds with the Romantic/Sexual Dyad is described in terms of a convergent, composite orientation. For example, for some people on the aromantic spectrum, the use of two separate labels for their orientation implies a separation that doesn’t match what is felt, because then those labels come across as (falsely) representing two distinct, different orientations. The adamant separation of romance & sexuality may even become an obstacle or source of frustration in some aro/ace contexts, making it difficult to talk about experiences that don’t distinguish between the two. Some examples of where I have encountered this narrative include here, here, here, and here.

Narratives of divergent identity

In some narratives, feeling at odds with the Romantic/Sexual Dyad involves contrasting the clarity of aromanticism (or another aro spectrum identity) against a comparatively unclear sexuality. For example, this can involve struggling to pinpoint the specifics because the feelings are vague, confusing, and unclear. Recognizing this challenge is not necessarily the same as “questioning,” though, because these narratives may include a marked apathy or disinterest in “figuring it out.” Instead, these aros leave it unspecified. Some examples of where I have encountered this narrative include here, here, here, here, and here.

This narrative was interesting to me because, as a quoiromantic gray-a, I’ve noticed some parallels here to gray and quoi experiences, which can both involve a lot of ambiguity, fuzziness, and giving up on specific categories. To be clear, I mention this not because I think more people should be adopting those labels, but because I believe in making connections and recognizing common ground. Here are some links for further reading on quoi and gray experiences, so you can see just what I mean in saying it’s similar:

Narratives of alienation

In some narratives, feeling at odds with the Romantic/Sexual Dyad involves specific references to alienation from the asexual community. For instance, this may involve considering oneself to be sex-favorable and, on that basis, not relating to a lot of asexual people. Some examples of where I have encountered this narrative include here, here, and here.

This one struck me as especially unexpected, even though in retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised — because we already knew about the see-saw cycle and how the sex-adjective descriptors can be a prime candidate for it. I suppose a part of my surprise also came from seeing the term “sex-favorable” being used by people who don’t identify as ace (with that being such an ace-derived term and all). So on that note, here are some links to further writing by/for/about sex-favorable aces, who identify with sex-favorability and asexuality both:

The reason I think it makes sense to share these here is, again, not to tell anyone “no actually, you can still be ace” or tell anybody what label to use. The reason is 1) to make a connection between a dynamic occurring in the aro community & a related dynamic occurring in the ace community, and 2) to point out to aces how the latter is impacting the former. At this stage, I’m not suggesting any particular response to it because I’d end up on a tangent about a different subject altogether. We already know it’s a tough issue to resolve. In the mean time, I’m just sticking a pin in this topic as something that continues to affect us, sometimes in newer and still developing ways.


13 responses to “Three Narratives of Non-Rosol Identity in the Aro Community

  • arofrantics

    I want to mention that in terms of alienation from the ace community, when I talk about the ace community in my tumblr posts, I’m generally referring to the tumblr ace community, as this is where I am engaged. The tumblr ace community feels to cater much more toward alloaces, and sex-repulsed folks. I don’t fall into either of those categories which is why it is alienating. Furthermore, I don’t feel particularly “sex favourable” – as I don’t have a desire to have sex with a person who I am not attracted to. The narratives that are most common in the (tumblr) ace community are therefore a) disgusted by sex or b) having a great time having sex, neither of which relate to my experience (I mention in one of the posts referenced that autochorissexualism is a label that may fit me but there’s already a bunch of issues surrounding that term anyway).

    Furthermore, I want to mention that I don’t feel the label non-rosol is the most accurate for me, because it only includes romantic and sexual orientation, and ignores the idea of other attraction axes (eg: platonic, sensual, etc), and I want terminology that expresses the lack of attraction across all attraction labels.

    But also, a lot of my reasons for opting out of rosol, and the idea of different attraction types overall is on my quest to find one succinct label that can express my overall lack of attraction, without splitting my identity into separate and distinct labels or experiences (hence I no longer id as aroace).

    • Coyote

      Hello again.

      I want to mention that in terms of alienation from the ace community, when I talk about the ace community in my tumblr posts, I’m generally referring to the tumblr ace community, as this is where I am engaged.

      Makes sense.

      The tumblr ace community feels to cater much more toward alloaces, and sex-repulsed folks.

      heh, I’m not sure all of them would agree with you on that. I won’t speak to the current state of ace tumblr on that issue, but I can provide you with some further context on how this issue gets complicated, if you’re interested.

      In any case — something that’s been brought up time and time again (including recently) (and also relevant to entirely different issues) is the idea of “subspaces,” which I think would be a lot easier to accomplish on different kinds of platforms. It could also help *enormously* with the issues that arise from unmoderated spaces (such as tumblr tag searches) if people were more frequently use moderated spaces. As in, spaces where a chosen moderator can straight up delete something out of the space if it’s off-topic or inappropriate. There goes your “ace-specific posts in the aro tag” problem, right there.

      Furthermore, I don’t feel particularly “sex favourable” – as I don’t have a desire to have sex with a person who I am not attracted to. The narratives that are most common in the (tumblr) ace community are therefore a) disgusted by sex or b) having a great time having sex, neither of which relate to my experience

      Tell me about it.

      Furthermore, I want to mention that I don’t feel the label non-rosol is the most accurate for me, because it only includes romantic and sexual orientation, and ignores the idea of other attraction axes (eg: platonic, sensual, etc), and I want terminology that expresses the lack of attraction across all attraction labels.

      I’m using the rosol/non-rosol scale to refer to a relationship to the community norm of the Romantic/Sexual Orientation Dyad — not a specific type of experience unto itself. So, roughly speaking, it’s more “Are you annoyed by people expecting you to adhere to this idea? yes/no” than it is describing the actuality of what you *do* feel. But I’m happy to take feedback on & adjust how that’s modeled and expressed, too.

      What it sounds to me like you’re talking about is a kind of separate/additional thing, a different community norm — the way of talking about aces and aros like every one of them should experience at least one type of attraction. Have I got the right idea?

      Like I mentioned in my other comment, I’m thinking about writing some more about this, at some point. But also, in case you’d be interested to know — I’ve also talked to Oliver/AssignedGothAtBirth about one of us maybe hosting a Carnival of Aros on the topic of attraction. What you’re talking about here could serve as a basis for a good prompt question or even a submission, if you want to write more about that.

      my quest to find one succinct label that can express my overall lack of attraction, without splitting my identity into separate and distinct labels or experiences (hence I no longer id as aroace).

      That’s… a tall order. Can you elaborate on what having a single word for that would allow you to do?

      • arofrantics

        Hello again.

        Hi there. :P

        I’m not sure all of them would agree with you on that.

        I mean, I can’t say that /all/ tumblr ace spaces are only and all for alloaces & sex-repulsed folks, especially since I’ve never really been engaged with the ace specific tumblr community, but that’s the /feeling/ I got from the outside, both from the aro community, and the tumblr community in general. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts though.

        There goes your “ace-specific posts in the aro tag” problem, right there.

        I completely understand the point on moderated/unmoderated spaces. I personally never had a problem with ace posts in the aro tag (https://arofrantics.tumblr.com/post/183694374079/a-long-post-about-how-its-bad-to-put-stuff-thats).

        I’m using the rosol/non-rosol scale to refer to a relationship to the community norm of the Romantic/Sexual Orientation Dyad — not a specific type of experience unto itself. So, roughly speaking, it’s more “Are you annoyed by people expecting you to adhere to this idea? yes/no” than it is describing the actuality of what you *do* feel. But I’m happy to take feedback on & adjust how that’s modeled and expressed, too.

        I understand that point of the model. I’m more comparing it to the use of sam – which mean rom & sexual orientations, but it can also refer to differentiating attraction/orientation as a whole (into, for example: romantic, sexual, sensual, platonic, alterous). Rosol replaces one concept, but not the other (so I guess I’m just asking you to come up with even more terminology ;P).

        What it sounds to me like you’re talking about is a kind of separate/additional thing, a different community norm — the way of talking about aces and aros like every one of them should experience at least one type of attraction. Have I got the right idea?

        Yes, I think I’m talking about a different norm. It’s more the idea that everyone has attraction that they are able to definitively label, even if that label is just “not platonic or romantic, aka alterous”. I think this overlaps with the idea of everyone having some sort of attraction, but it also implies that this attraction is categorisable, and worthwhile categorising (if that makes sense).

        Like I mentioned in my other comment, I’m thinking about writing some more about this, at some point. But also, in case you’d be interested to know — I’ve also talked to Oliver/AssignedGothAtBirth about one of us maybe hosting a Carnival of Aros on the topic of attraction. What you’re talking about here could serve as a basis for a good prompt question or even a submission, if you want to write more about that.

        Tbh, I don’t tend to do much longform writing, but I’d be happy to participate.

        That’s… a tall order. Can you elaborate on what having a single word for that would allow you to do?

        Idk if it would do anything in particular but it would make me feel better. It feels like aspec identities are so open to “I don’t experience [x] attraction but…. I experience [y]”. And I want something a bit more final. I think it’s more aspirational than realistic in any case.

        • Coyote

          I mean, I can’t say that /all/ tumblr ace spaces are only and all for alloaces & sex-repulsed folks, especially since I’ve never really been engaged with the ace specific tumblr community, but that’s the /feeling/ I got from the outside, both from the aro community, and the tumblr community in general.

          Sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the most common narrative to cross your dash.

          There’s multiple sources of tension, however. On the sex-adjective issue — I had to write this post in 2014 for a reason — you had cases (on tumblr) of aces suggesting to aces that they try sex, even when those aces had just expressed being uncomfortable with that. I talked about a bigger pattern of this more generally (and a lot of other stuff) in my post about ace advice blogs (see the section on bad relationship advice). I also strongly recommend Queenie’s more recent posts I am not your dirty secret (from 2014) and Asexuality as a hard limit (from 2018, a response to Talia). I don’t know if Talia is a tumblr user, but Queenie is.

          I think this overlaps with the idea of everyone having some sort of attraction, but it also implies that this attraction is categorisable, and worthwhile categorising (if that makes sense).

          It makes sense.

          Tbh, I don’t tend to do much longform writing, but I’d be happy to participate.

          Oh don’t worry, there aren’t any particular length expectations. :3 Technically, a submission to the carnival doesn’t even need to be in text format (although naturally that is the most common way). Just thought it was important to say that.

          Idk if it would do anything in particular but it would make me feel better. It feels like aspec identities are so open to “I don’t experience [x] attraction but…. I experience [y]”. And I want something a bit more final. I think it’s more aspirational than realistic in any case.

          I see. Well, based on my exposure to how word coinage goes (taking quoiro for instance as an example), I’d say the first step is a good buildup of talking around an idea, what the current obstacle is, and what needs to be expressed.

          Looks like you’ve got a little of that started here and on your tumblr blog, so a supplementary/first-and-a-half step here is to hear from more people. Not people who have your 100% exact same experience (because that’s impossible; there’s only one you), but rather, who has a similar experience, and if so, enough detail to help is discuss and figure out some of how they’re similar, in what ways. In other words, you’d need to get other people talking about it more too.

          That’s another part of why I suggested the Carnival of Aros idea — ’cause once the call for submissions post went up, you could try promoting that to your followers/in any relevant tumblr tags & see if you could get them talking about the subject. I dunno about you, but I’ve found people typically respond more to “How would you answer this question about X?” than “Hey, not enough people are talking about X, let’s say something about X.”

        • Siggy

          Rosol replaces one concept, but not the other (so I guess I’m just asking you to come up with even more terminology ;P).

          Just to clarify, were you aware that the articles where Coyote establishes the “rosol” concept, they also coin three other terms which address other aspects of “SAM”?

        • Coyote

          Admittedly I don’t have anything for what they’re talking about here — a label specifically for “experiences no attraction of any kind, whatsoever, at all, even the unorthodox kinds.” That ROLN model I came up with wasn’t really intended for… additional orientation labels themselves, if that makes sense.

          Anyway, I have no ambitions of attempting that any time soon. I do have ambitions of trying to get people to keep talking about these things though.

      • assignedgothatbirth

        “Yes, I think I’m talking about a different norm. It’s more the idea that everyone has attraction that they are able to definitively label, even if that label is just “not platonic or romantic, aka alterous””
        Probably the closest thing I’ve seen to this is aplatonic- though it wasn’t originally intended that way, I feel like a common experience amongst people who use that label as a way to say “I don’t feel attracted to anyone at all” even though that’s not the textbook definition per se. But I can understand why you wouldn’t want to identify that way- I do think that we need a word for “not feeling attraction at all”.

  • Siggy

    The reason I think it makes sense to share these here is, again, not to tell anyone “no actually, you can still be ace” or tell anybody what label to use.

    Something that usually doesn’t get mentioned wrt sex-favorable aces is that sex-favorability is correlated with people identifying as gray-asexual or demisexual, instead of asexual proper. Which is not to say that asexual people can’t be sex-favorable, after all it’s just a correlation it’s not a 100% correspondence. But it is to say that I don’t begrudge it when people, as a result of being sex-favorable, choose to disidentify with asexuality, the asexual spectrum, or sexual orientation entirely. On the contrary, I sympathize, I think it’s a legitimate choice, and similar to the choice I made myself.

    @arofrantics

    The narratives that are most common in the (tumblr) ace community are therefore a) disgusted by sex or b) having a great time having sex

    Yep. It’s bad.

    • Coyote

      Something that usually doesn’t get mentioned wrt sex-favorable aces is that sex-favorability is correlated with people identifying as gray-asexual or demisexual, instead of asexual proper.

      “Asexual proper,” lol. I’m an improper asexual. Catch me upending the tables at the tea party and leaving my shirt untucked.

      But anyway, yeah, good point. Something I thought about but neglected to work into the post here.

      • Siggy

        LOL, did I just use “proper” in an unusual way? I’m from Los Angeles, which is swiss-cheese-shaped, so there was always a distinction between the LA area, and “LA proper” the latter referring to official city boundaries.

  • Reminders on attraction | The Ace Theist

    […] a comment on a prior post, Ib/Arofrantics mentioned seeing a problem with how some people talk about […]

  • (What) does the aro community want (with) quoiros? | The Ace Theist

    […] If you’re not a regular reader, allow me into introduce myself. My name is Coy. I have been personally identifying as quoiromantic for about five years, after a brief period of questioning before that. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you can read up on the origins of “quoiromantic,” what people use it to mean, and why it’s relevant. For myself, I use it to mean not having a romantic orientation. The term can be considered a surly response to the romantic & sexual dyad as a community norm, and in that sense, I have something in common with folks who are “just aro.” […]

This comment section does not require an account.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: